Mexico: At least 134 people were killed when a powerful 7.0-magnitude earthquake struck central Mexico on Tuesday, knocking down buildings in the capital, where rescuers desperately seek the debris for survivors.
Thousands of people rushed to the streets in panic, and millions lost electricity when the earthquake struck around lunchtime.
The mayor of Mexico City, Miguel Angel Mancera, said that 44 buildings were severely damaged or destroyed. There were several gas leaks and major fires.
Interior Secretary Miguel Angel Osorio Chong told local television that the rescue teams worked minutely with picks and shovels.
“We have some buildings where we have reports that there might be people inside, they are doing it with a lot of caution,” he said, adding that more rescue personnel would be needed.
Ambulances and fire trucks faced stagnation on the streets of Mexico City as millions of workers attempted to return home.
The tremor occurred on the 32nd anniversary of a devastating earthquake that killed thousands of people in Mexico City in 1985. Many Mexicans had participated in earthquake drills on Tuesday, as is customary every September 19.
A strong earthquake in southern Mexico, on September 7, killed at least 98 people.
Among the buildings that collapsed in the capital on Tuesday were apartment blocks, a school, a factory and a supermarket. The fashionable Roman district was severely hit, and a six-story apartment building was among several reported collapses.
Hundreds of volunteers and rescue workers dug through the rubble with picks, shovels and their bare hands.
“My wife is there, I have not been able to communicate with her, she is not responding, and now they tell us that we have to turn off our cell phones because there is a gas leak,” said Juan Garcia Garcia, 33, drowning his tears.
On Twitter, family members submitted news requests from family members, including Alexis Vargas Macias, 8, who was at school when the earthquake struck.
Earthquakes of magnitude 7 or higher are considered important and are capable of causing extensive damage.
The most affected area appeared to be the state of Morelos, south of Mexico City, where at least 54 people died. The epicenter of the earthquake on Tuesday was located in the central state of Puebla, the United States Geological Survey reported, and there were 41 deaths reported.
Authorities said that 30 died in Mexico City and nine in the surrounding state of Mexico. A death was reported in the southern state of Guerrero.
The electric power was reduced to 3.8 million customers, said national power company CFE.
In Puebla, university student Jevon Minto, 24, said he had just arrived in class when he felt the tremor. “We were sitting when the place began to shake really, really hard … You can literally feel the fear and panic in this city.”
“You can see people … (are) scared, their eyes are red from crying.”
US President Donald Trump said on Twitter: “God bless the people of Mexico City, we are with you and we will be there for you.” Mexico City, one of the most populated cities in the world, and the surrounding area are home to around 20 million people.
In the capital, at least one survivor was taken from a collapsed building in the crowded Condesa neighborhood, and another was rescued from a six-story apartment building nearby.
Banker Jesús González Hernández, 55, said lamps and office furniture swayed when the quake began. He and his colleagues hurried to evacuate. “But down the stairs, the walls were breaking up,” said Gonzalez Hernandez, who fractured his ankle in the fight.
In Cuernavaca, a popular city in Morelos as a destination for weekend visitors from Mexico City, there were reports of local radio from people trapped under collapsed buildings.
Mexican television and social networks showed cars crushed by debris.
“We left very quickly, leaving everything as it was and we left,” said Rosaura Suarez, as she stood with a crowd in Mexico City.
Mexican stocks and the currency in pesos fell with news of the earthquake and the Mexican stock market suspended trade.